Expert Opinion

Digital Transformation - a sport marketing educator’s perspective

In this blog post, Angela Green, Senior Lecturer, Sport Marketing, in the School of Sport at Leeds Beckett, reflects on some of the digital developments changing the education landscape.

This week, as I introduced students to my third year Digital Media for International Marketing module, I reflected on some of the digital developments that have taken place over the past couple of days.

Students were surprised to hear that Uber had launched the first driverless car, taxi service, in Seattle, USA. It would appear, that a driver is positioned in the car for safety purposes and only takes control of the steering if safety demands it. We were alarmed to hear that, in two thirds of the trips made, the driver had to regain control!! But as I explained to students, new technology development needs to start somewhere. I explained how technology has advanced rapidly, and whilst Twitter hadn’t even been thought of, when we originally wrote our sport marketing degree, it was now up front and central. This year we had tried our induction challenge using Twitter and were pleased to hear that this week they were increasing the size of tweets, so that @names and #names would no longer be counted in the 140 character allowance. We identified why SnapChat had changed it’s name to Snap Inc, and looked forward to hearing more about the new video glasses image, which had been leaked earlier that day on YouTube.

Digital technologies appear to have profoundly changed the way we do things, in our work, business, education, leisure, and personal lives. However, it is not just the technologies that lead to digital transformation. Digital transformation is much broader and can often be thought of in three stages. Initially the impetus is for people to gain digital competencies. As aptitude and proficiency grows, in the second stage, digital usage should increase and be more contextually relevant. This can eventually result in digital transformation, where the digital usage naturally and intrinsically enables new types of innovation and creativity in the field, rather than simply improving traditional methods and practices (Lankshear and Knobel, 2008). At the transformative stage, the digital application should stimulate significant change, or ways of doing business. Real digital transformation is more than simply digitising paper or work processes. According to De Clerk (2016), the founder of I-scoop, and author of the online guide to digital transformation, Digital Transformation is:

”The profound and accelerating transformation of business activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way”.

A report from The Economist Intelligence Unit, Digital Evolution: Learning from the leaders in digital transformation (2015) highlights, that organisations that have been most successful with digital transformation are the ones that have responded aggressively to changes in their competitive landscape, and have seen them as an opportunity to seize advantage. These businesses have reinvented their practices and have derived most value from the new digital technologies that include social media, cloud computing, mobile technology and big data. In contrast to this behind the curve companies tend to focus on using technology to solve a specific problem and have a more inward facing focus.

Within the educational sector, digital transformation has the potential to revolutionise our educational offer and practice. It can provide new ways for us to engage with our customers on a regional and global scale. It can radically change the way we present information or utilise information to enhance learning. There will be a multitude of possibilities for us to add value to our student’s everyday experiences; we just need to think outside of the box and embrace the opportunities we have.

This week we saw the University launch its first mobile app and whilst a few concerns were initially raised about its ability to monitor student attendance, it has the potential to provide the students with so much more value, as it develops in the future. In my own digital marketing module, I have also created a mobile app for student use, and for the first time this year, I hope to experiment and use it to book student tutorials, as well as provide module quizzes and module content. I am excited by the technologies that are available to us and look forward to using them to develop and enhance our teaching practice. Perhaps we will significantly change our assessment practices as we become more creative and curious with technology.

As we move towards online marking I also look forward to the convenience that a tablet, with a specific marking app, can make to my marking workload. I am confident that after a short learning curve, it will save me time and provide added value to me as a lecturer. Leeds Beckett University should be commended for having the foresight to integrate technologies like these into its everyday practice. They will reap the benefits that are on the horizon and will be prepared for the transformations that await the educational establishments in the future.

However, we must not forget it’s the people, and not the tech, that makes our organisation work. We all have a duty to engage and try out new ideas if we are going to outperform our competitors in the educational sector in the future.


  • De-Clerk, J, P (2016) Digital transformation: online guide to digital business transformation, [Internet blog].
  • Lankshear,C,and Knobel,M ( 2008), Digital literacies: concepts, policies and practices, Peter Lang, New York.
  • Digital Evolution: Learning from the leaders in digital transformation (2015),The Economist Intelligence Unit, available here accessed on 1st October 2016.

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